When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was announced early
in 1984, the cinemas pledged a record of $40 million in non-refundable
guarantees, putting the film into profit before it was made,
let alone release. To promote the film, Spielberg and Lucas
agreed to have their hand and footprints eternalized in cement
in front of Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
The film premiered in the United States on May 23, 1984.
Thirteen million people happily were waiting for Indy's new
venture in its first week; more than had attended Return of
the Jedi in the same period the previous summer. What none
expected were children fleeing out of the theaters crying
and parents complaining for great violence. Moral groups complained
that the horrors on show were too strong for its PG rating.
Spielberg, at first tried to defend the film by saying that
"the picture is not called Temple of Roses, it is called Temple
of Doom. There are parts of this film that are too intense
for younger children but this is a fantasy adventure. It is
the kind of violence that does not really happen and can not
be perpetuated by people leaving the cinema and performing
those tricks on their friends at home". Shortly, he admitted
on live TV that the temple sequences, in particularly, were
unsuitable for children under the age of ten. In the years
to come he would admit that there was nothing personal of
him in the picture and state, "Indy II will not go down in
my pantheon as one of my prouder moments."
Huyck in an interview stated, "I would be very conscious
in taking a kid to this movie, though. Hopefully, you know
your child well enough to know what scares him and what doesn't.
But, obviously, if the kid began to get scared, I would leave."
While Huyck seemed to understand the worried parents Katz
defended their work by saying, "I think it's really up to
parental discretion to decide whether a motion picture is
too violent or not. I would probably not want an 8 or 10-year
old child to see the movie. But kids, certainly, are so much
more sophisticated now." And continued, "We had to create
a villain, and villains must do bad things. They just can't
say: "Hello, I'm a villain with capital "V". With Nazis, you
didn't have to see what they did, because you know Nazis are
bad. But here, you can't have a watered-down villain. The
audience must see evil, any kind of evil. You must show some
of what that evil is in order to have to convincing fable.
If anything, I feel it's a problem with ratings system, not
with the movie."
Under the pressure Paramount put on a warning: This film
may be too intense for younger children, while a couple of
months later a new rating was issued, Parental Guidance-13.
Still, the warning didn't stop the British board of film censors
from making twenty-five cuts to the film.
When told of Paramount's decision Ford commented: "I think
that's fair enough." Still a professional, he defended the
film and gave an explanation on his behalf, "This is a completely
moral tale and in order to have a moral resolve, evil must
be seen to inflict pain. The end of the movie is proof of
the viability of goodness. But I do not like films that use
violence in a reprehensible way. I do not seek out movies
that are bathed in blood." In later years Ford accepted that
the violence went too far, an opinion shared by Spielberg.
Lucas on the other hand, remained unrepentant. It was always
his intension to make Temple a frightening, malevolent experience.
If Raiders was the jungle ride at Disneyland, the prequel
was a trip through the haunted house. In the years that passed
he expressed thoughts that it might have worked even better
had more comedy been employed, "but we set out to make a scary
film and I think we succeeded." Besides, the violence children
are exposed to through this picture is nothing, compared to
the violence they face every day through the news and television.
What is funny is the fact that people seemed to totally forget
that Raiders was not less a savage film, with its graphic
fight scenes and mounting corpses; the only difference between
the two films was that Raiders featured cartoon violence whereas
Temple of Doom was more dark and acute. People got more sensitive
towards children being tortured than a group of Nazis being
Violence wasn't the film's only flaw as some critics found
inexcusable the way ethnic minorities were treated in the
film. Audiences laughed and grimaced with the unspeakable
delicacies that were served up at the Pankot palace's banquet
while some people were annoyed by the way Indian villagers
were presented because they looked like lepers! During a London
press conference Ford apologized, again, by saying: "I have
absolute sympathy with those criticisms. If that was so it's
regrettable and to be guarded against next time. I don't want
to be outwardly racist but movies are dependent on stereotypes.
But I'm sorry that occurred and I'll use what power I have
to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The reviews Temple of Doom received were various. Many critics
disliked the fact that the Temple of Doom spent much time
in the Temple itself, while at the same time they believed
it lacked the wit and nerve Lawrence Kasdan had managed to
provide in the first film. That wasn't all wrong, as Kasdan
had built brief episodes, each with its climax and a respite
before the tension built again, Huyck and Katz worked to a
different and more agitated drummer making the film too fast.
In general, although, it can't in circle the imagination and
creativity of Raiders, it has more humor and it is considered
as a masterpiece, as far as the technical part is concerned.
Harrison Ford was once again great as Indy while encouraging
reviews went to little Ke Hui Quan, too. Quan's portrayal
of Short Round presented a miniature Indiana Jones, unfearing,
resourceful and totally loyal, winning audiences hearts. Kate
Capshaw on the other hand wasn't very proud about her reviews,
thanks to her undeveloped character created mostly by Spielberg.
In his effort to balance the horror in the film with more
comedy he forced Capshaw to drift away from the character
in the script. She ended up being one of the constant comic
parts in the film and spent most of her screen time screaming,
yelling and nagging, by this way loosing the chance to create
a character more interesting than Allen's.
As Robert Sellers pointed out "audience expectation was so
impossible high that all of Temple's flaws were magnified.
Not only it was a prequel to one of the most successful films
in recent times, but Spielberg and Lucas had been placed in
the unenviable position of having to out do their past glories
with each new release."
Despite moral groups and raging critics Temple of Doom soon
entered the top ten of box office hits, grossing $109 million
only in the United States. It was the year's third top grossing
film, behind Joe Dante's Gremlins and the year's discovery
Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop.
Nominated for two Academy Awards, one for John Williams'
score and one for the visual effects of Dennis Muren and the
ILM team, Temple of Doom won the second.
With the huge success of Temple of Doom it was definitely
established that adventure had a name and this was Indiana